One notable experience during matches across the various venues in Alexandria, Suez, and Cairo during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) games has been the lighting in the fans’ stands at two different intervals in the game.
This is done first in the 20th and 22nd minutes of every game.
Then, towards the end of the game, the stands are lit up once again in the 72nd minute.
During those respective time intervals, the fans touch up their phones, illuminating the dark stands with bright light.
According to Shorouk News journalist, Amir Sadek, who also works at Sports 360, the tradition is in honour for the memory of Martyrs from both fans Ahly & Zamalek who perished in different incidents and remembrance of the country’s footballing’s icon Mohamed Mohamed Mohamed Aboutrika.
Thereafter the act of lighting up the stadium stands at those different incidents started in 2016Amir Sadek, Egyptian Sports Journalist
For starters, on 1st February 2012, 72 Ahly supporters during a tragedy at Port Said stadium when Ahly faced Al Masry.
The same timing commemorates the death of 25 Zamalek fans who struggled to access the 30th June Stadium on 8th February 2015 to attend their club’s match against ENPPI in the Egypt Premier League.
This nasty incident led to ban of fans from all the home games for a period of three years since their home matches were all played behind closed doors.
For the 22nd minute, it is just a kind of greeting from the fans to the former Ahly and Egypt national team player, Aboutrika.
Aboutrika, 40, has since retired but he donned shirt 22.
Nick-named the Arab’s Zidane, Aboutrika was named the BBC African Footballer of the Year (2008), CAF Africa’s finest XI (2014, 2007 and 2009) as well as the African Player of the Year – Based in Africa (2012, 2014 and 2009) before he retired officially.
A graduate from Cairo University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, the father of twins was criticized recently from some media representative and officials for his political views, and supporting Muslim brotherhood.
The positive act of lighting up the stands is a sign of unity, regardless of club supported, race or tribe in solidarity of the aforementioned scenarios.
Throughout the AFCON tournament, different fans from the 24 participating countries followed suit to light up the stands.